Clinton, McCain leads shrink in New Hampshire: poll
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain hold shrinking leads in New Hampshire three days before the state's presidential nominating contest, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Saturday.
Most of the polling in the four-day tracking survey was taken before the Iowa caucuses on Thursday, when Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee sailed to wins in the opening test of the presidential campaign.
In New Hampshire, Clinton's lead over Obama in the Democratic race shrunk slightly to four points, 32 percent to 28 percent. John Edwards, a former North Carolina senator who finished second in Iowa, was in third place with 20 percent.
Among Republicans, McCain's lead over rival Mitt Romney fell by two points to 32 percent against 30 percent. Huckabee, a Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor, gained two points to 12 percent.
"Overall the numbers have not moved that much but there was the beginning of a post-Iowa bounce for Obama and Huckabee," pollster John Zogby said. "We will see more tomorrow but I think we will clearly see them make gains."
The rolling poll of 893 likely Democratic voters and 887 likely Republican voters was taken Tuesday through Friday. The margin of error for both races was plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
New Hampshire's primary on Tuesday is the next battleground in the state-by-state process of choosing Republican and Democratic candidates for November's election to replace President George W. Bush.
The state is vital to efforts by Clinton, the New York senator and former first lady, and Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, to revitalize their campaigns after disappointing showings in Iowa.
CLINTON, ROMNEY SEEK COMEBACKS
Clinton, who just a few months ago was the dominant Democratic front-runner and presumed nominee, finished third in Iowa behind Obama, an Illinois senator who would be the first black president, and Edwards.
Romney led polls in Iowa for months before falling victim to Huckabee's late surge. He also led New Hampshire polls before the recent charge of McCain, an Arizona senator who won the state during his failed 2000 presidential bid.
About 7 percent of Republicans and Democrats remain undecided in the New Hampshire poll.
Among Democrats, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was at 7 percent and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich was at 3 percent. Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, both of whom dropped out after the Iowa results, were at 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
Among Republicans, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was at 9 percent, Texas Rep. Ron Paul was at 7 percent and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson. California Rep. Duncan Hunter was at less than 1 percent.
Independents, who can participate in either party's primary in New Hampshire, were vital to McCain's win in the state in 2000 but appear to be leaning toward Democrats this year, Zogby said.
"We're seeing about 40 percent of the Democratic vote coming from independents so far and about one-quarter of the Republican vote coming from independents," he said.
Obama, who rode a wave of support for his outsider's message of change to the win in Iowa, leads the Democratic field among independents with 34 percent. Clinton, who would be the first woman president, was at 26 percent.
McCain was the top Republican choice for independents at 42 percent, well ahead of Romney at 29 percent.
The rolling tracking poll will continue each day until New Hampshire's vote on Tuesday. In a rolling poll, the most recent day's results are added while the oldest day's results are dropped in order to track changing momentum.
(Editing by David Wiessler)
(For more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at blogs.reuters.com/trail08/)
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